Not cynical, just blind
This has become an article of faith in the industry, and perhaps we're too cynical, but from Vulture Towers it seems the electricity bill has been fulfilling that role some years
There are already devices you can buy which you attach to your main power line, and have a little display unit in your living room which tells you of your usage. These DO get people interested in seeing how much energy is used, and tracking down what is using power, because the immediate feedback of seeing the numbers spike when you run the kettle makes it more 'real'
However, these are given out for free by some companies and they seem to work just as well as replacing the whole meter at a fraction of the cost. So while I totally reject El Reg's rejection of the suggestion a smart meter will save you money, I still agree with you that the whole scheme seems a bit daft.